Surge in Gun Violence in Providence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 21, 2020

CONTACT: Linda Finn, Executive Director, (401) 258-6851

Providence, Rhode Island, August 21, 2020 – On August 15th, 21-year-old Kiovany Diaz was attending his daughter’s birthday party when he was shot and killed on Massachusetts Avenue in Providence. In a span of 10 days we had five* victims of gun violence:

  • Tobey Street, August 20, 2020
  • Branch Avenue, August 19, 2020
  • Prairie Avenue, August 17, 2020
  • Massachusetts Avenue, August 15, 2020
  • F.C. Greene Mem. Blvd (near Wheeler Ave), August 10, 2020

Coincidentally, preceding this spate of shootings, reported on August 13th that 52 guns and ammunition were stolen from a home in Providence over a 10 day period.

The emotional toll on the families and friends of these victims is unfathomable. With every new victim, survivors relive the horror and pain of their own losses. In 2011 Diana Garlington lost her daughter, Essence, to gun violence in Providence. Speaking at the Providence City Hall press conference this morning she said “We cannot stand by and see our children slaughtered. Our community is suffering from the pandemic and our community is not able to sleep in the midst of these murders, so why should our General Assembly?

While it is easy to be overwhelmed and to look for simple solutions, there are none. Because none are simple, does not mean there is nothing to be done. We are calling on the General Assembly to reconvene to address the surge in gun violence and to take votes on bills that have been languishing for years:

    • H7720 and S2593  – requiring safe storage of firearms
    • S2595 – prohibiting “straw purchasers” of firearms
    • H7264 and S2130 – banning high capacity magazines
    • H7263 and S2131 – banning assault weapons
    • H7327 – raising the age to possess, sell or purchase firearms or ammunition from 18 to 21

Historically, we know that Providence  communities face gun violence rates much higher than in other parts of the state. However, this year murders in Rhode Island are up 100% over the last two years:

Time Frame Killed
January – August 21, 2020* 16
January – August 31, 2019 8
January – August 31, 2018 7

*Source: – most recent murder in R.I. not yet updated.

Linda Finn, Executive Director of RICAGV, says “Easy access to firearms endangers all of us and Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support these laws.” The gun lobby has for too long stoked fear in our state which has undoubtedly contributed to the massive surge in FBI background checks during the COVID-10 crisis.

This surge in background checks, as of July 31, 2020 already exceeding the total for 2019, will lead to more gun sales, and is already leading to more gun deaths and injuries.

Governor Raimondo, Attorney General Peter Neronha and the majority of Rhode Island House and Senate members support these reforms, as do the large majority of Rhode Islanders; it is time for the leadership to listen to the call from Rhode Islanders to take action.